After some reorganization and shuffling, commonplace in the corporate world, Paul Bibeau chose to retire early. At the time, his family’s investments were enough to cover their expenses. Like many who have worked diligently over the years, putting hard-earned dollars into a retirement fund, Paul and his wife, Linda, grew uneasy about leaving their financial future at the mercy of the stock market.
In pursuit of greater financial stability, the Bibeaus felt the need to invest in something less susceptible to the ups and downs of the economy. Wanting more control over their annuity, the couple began their journey toward financial and personal freedom.
After leaving the corporate world, Paul realized retirement didn’t really fit his personality and it was not long before he began to look for another project. He and Linda agreed they wanted to work together, building something that utilized both of their skills and experience.
Over the course of his more than 30-year career, Paul developed strong leadership and management skills in his role as senior vice president and general manager, overseeing a division with over 250 employees and managing small and large product development groups. He was an effective and respected leader because of his philosophy to treat people fairly and by genuinely caring for the people he managed.
Linda likewise approached her work with the same philosophy. In addition to raising four kids, she was involved in many of their extracurricular activities. She took on leadership roles with the Girl Scouts, as well as service unit manager in charge of 40 troops and also with her local National Charity League, serving on the executive board.
After taking inventory of their goals and skills, the Bibeaus began their search in franchising. Paul explains why they started with franchising, “We have previously tried to start other businesses from scratch and it was extremely difficult. If you are not 100 percent committed and give it the time and dedication it demands, it won’t work. We wanted an existing formula.”
Linda adds, “Being in our 50s and already established in our lives and family, we didn’t want to go through the pains that go with a start up business. We wanted to find a business model that would use our experience and skill sets.”
The pair gravitated toward service business models, however, they quickly eliminated the food sector. Paul explains, “When you own a restaurant, you have to work in it all the time. This makes having multiple stores difficult. And with your primary workforce being young adults, there is a lot of employee turnover. We were also very concerned about the soft theft issue that is commonplace with that type of business, employees literally eating away at your profits. Food scared us.”
Steering away from the food industry, the Bibeaus spent some time looking at an educational tutoring center. However, they had concerns that the business model did not do enough to differentiate itself from other brands in the same space. Their search continued.
Around this time, they discovered Sport Clips Haircuts on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 500 Franchises list. “It was the sports theme that first caught my eye. We took our son with us and went and had a look. He had a great haircut experience while we sat and talked with the other clients waiting for haircuts. We knew there was something special here,” recalls Paul.
After further investigating the model’s offering, Paul says, “We were struck at how well the brand had differentiated itself within its industry. We also appreciated the fact that we didn’t need to be experts on hair to own a salon, we could hire a manager to run the daily operations. The business model was compatible with our skills and management experience.”
He continues, “We also liked the hair industry from a workforce standpoint. Being a stylist requires skill. Employees have invested time and money to become stylists, so turnover would not be like in industries that don’t require skill, such as food.”
In 2010, the Bibeaus opened their first store in California’s Orange County area and have since grown to five stores. Their skills and experience proved helpful to their new roles, as they are some of the top performing team leaders in their market. Their hands-on approach to their stores has done well for them in their community, “Our clients know that there is an owner that cares. We work hard to be present and accessible to our clients and community and they appreciate that,” explains Linda.
The Bibeaus also have an exceptional employee retention rate. “Hiring and retaining quality team members is a big reason that we have been so successful. It is so important to client loyalty, which is essential for becoming profitable. The values and team culture of Sport Clips are something stylists can really buy into, it is something they want to be a part of,” says Linda.
When asked if they had some advice for new team leaders, Paul says, “You need to be involved in your stores. They can theoretically run themselves and survive, but if you want to thrive and grow, you need to put in the time and effort up front. This is not just a write-off. You will get out what you put in.”
Hear more from Paul and Linda Bibeau at this month’s Validation Conference Call.